The Easter Tree (11-04-2023)
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:1-5)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:1-5)
Last Saturday morning I spent a lovely couple of hours at Hannington Church. I was part of the team running an event there celebrating Easter. The whole idea was that people would pop into the church, have a drink and a piece of cake and take part, if they wanted, in some activities. The atmosphere in the church was what made the event so special; there was a lovely mix of ages and of people who usually come to church and those who do not. Some of the activities were aimed at the younger people there while others could be enjoyed by anyone who wanted to take part in them.
Rob and I were running an activity aimed at all ages. A few weeks ago, while out for a walk, we had come across a fallen branch of a tree. We had taken the branch home and after a little pruning it formed the centre of our activity. The tree needed decorating as it was rather bare. I had created some plain decorations from card, either in the shape of an egg or a cross. There were then pens, pencils and stickers provided for people to use in order to decorate the shapes and add a few words of hope or encouragement to them.
A young boy came to the table and I explained to him and his mum what the activity involved. First of all he selected one of the egg shapes to decorate and then he asked if he could also have one of the crosses so that he could draw a picture of Jesus on the cross as he told me that Jesus had died on a cross. I of course said that he could and he went on to draw Jesus on the cross and put butterflies on the egg. At the end he took a butterfly sticker and used it to stick the two decorations together. I asked him if he wanted me to separate the two decorations but no, he was very clear, that he wanted them to be joined together. For him Jesus on the cross and the image of the egg were all part of Easter. I happily hung the joined decoration on the tree.
I was reminded of our need to have faith like that of a small child. The young boy understood that Easter was about Jesus dying on the cross but also that that was not the whole story, for Easter is also about new life as represented by the egg. He understood that you can’t have one without the other; his childlike understanding of the message of Easter blessed me and I hope it blesses you too.
Thank you Jesus, that through your death and resurrection we can have new life.